BlackBerry appoints Eric Johnson as President of Global Sales

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By James Richardson on 13 Jan 2014 09:15 am EST

Since John Chen took over as CEO for BlackBerry we've seen a few new members appointed to the management team. This time its in the sales department and Eric Johnson will take the helm and hopefully move the ship forward. 

As we all know - sales for BlackBerry smartphones need to improve and Eric could well be the man for the job, looking at his past experience. With BlackBerry 10 now a year old, 2014 needs to be better for them than 2013 was, although the company expects it to take a while longer for a full recovery in terms of making money. 

Press Release


WATERLOO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Jan. 13, 2014) - BlackBerry(R) Limited (NASDAQ:BBRY)(TSX:BB), a world leader in mobile communications, today announced that Eric Johnson will join the Company as President, Global Sales reporting to BlackBerry's Executive Chair and CEO, John Chen. 

"I am pleased to round out BlackBerry's new executive leadership team with another outstanding addition today. I have worked with Eric extensively and have tremendous respect for his sales expertise and customer centric approach to business. Our carriers, partners, distributors and enterprise customers will benefit greatly from Eric's approach," said Chen. "The experience that the majority of the new leadership team has in working together previously will drive change within the organization at a faster pace. I look forward to demonstrating these changes to the market."

Eric Johnson most recently served as Senior Vice President and General Manager for SAP's Global Database and Technology. Prior to that, Eric was Senior Vice President and General Manager of Platform and Analytics Sales for North America, also at SAP. In the years preceding, Eric served in several capacities at Sybase, including Senior Vice President and General Manager for North America, Senior Vice President and General Manager Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Senior Vice President and General Manager for Financial Services, where he managed both direct and indirect sales including field sales, professional services and customer services. Eric holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Topics: Apps

Reader comments

BlackBerry appoints Eric Johnson as President of Global Sales


A good leader delegates,so if Eric performed beyond expectations in the past for John,why would he not grab him and expect the same results,going forward.The guy must be good!!

Not really. It just means he's comfortable with him or will do what John says.
Right now it means he's hired another buddy. When the results come in, we'll know that this appointment really is.

Just to be straight, I like what John has done so far, but this one looks like a buddy hire.

No sure how buddy hire is associated with the hire. They may dislike each other but can get the job done. If he knows the guys capabilities as he does this is smart, rather than pucki.g an unknown.

Posted via CB10

Someone like Eric would have to be poached to not seeking for employment from BBRY. John worked with Eric in the Sybase days and helped with the turn-around. I'm hopeful it is a good choice but a part of me has the notion it's a buddy hire and a lateral move for Eric (from VP tp P means more money).

The markets are not as sure of this hire as they were of last's hire of Ron.

Depends on the compensation package. If all these former associates of Chen are getting cherry packages that do not relate to performance, or provide huge bonuses on the sale or breakup of the company, I would be concerned. Which begs the question, how exactly is Chen managing to lure them there?

Sorry if I'm waxing cynical.

You are waxing cynical and it is good that you are aware of it. CEOs hardly hire unknowns; it is almost par for the course that just about every head honcho brings in his own people/team. I have seen it work brilliantly and I have also seen where it didn't work as well as expected. But other than death and taxes, not much else in life is guaranteed so there are inherent risks in Chen's hires as there are with just about everything else.

Comes down to, does he know any other top performers not from SAP?
Just seems everyone being hired is coming from SAP and what is SAP doing about it? Is SAP worried or is the end game for SAP to buy them?

I think Chen's plan is solid, the turn around future is looking awesome but if I didn't have questions or have doubts I might as well be a sheep.

Sales ? Why ramp up the company to value it at a higher price if you're SAP and is well informed of the value of BlackBerry, the common sense would be to buy it now while it's still at a low price. I don't think that they're aiming at a sale, at least not to SAP, with all those hirings.

Ding ding.

Thought I was the only one that saw an emerging repeat of the Elop-Nokia-MS triangle.

Seems like Chen-BBRY-SAP is the new triangle.

Posted via CB10

It's starting to look like that now. If SAP does not have the time to purchase, learn and turn around then it's smart to let the existing members to figure it out and purchase for a bit higher price later.

I think Chen knew from upfront all he has planned for his dream team but is officially recruiting in phases. Obviously based on his apparent target base I don't think he could have pulled them all at once.

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As long as they all add up to success. As much change as Chen has made, we have to see a result.

Posted from my CB10 via the power of "Q"

They need to take apps more seriously. More productive and good quality apps, more sales. I will say it again, the hardware is awesome, just poor apps compared to iOS and android.

Powered by BlackBerry Q10

Nothing. But they will have easier time on global sales if they could improve the apps.

Powered by BlackBerry Q10

They are 100% aware of this and doing everything they can go get apps. Its hard to make a business case to developers when their user base is tiny and the future uncertain though.

Indeed, Blaze wrote an article about it a while back. They're actually doing everything we keep telling them via a vis apps in the background. They're taking it very seriously indeed.

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Agreed. The more people with a successful record and turned around companies that come into the fray the better. Hopefully this instils yet more confidence from the market.

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So what's your plan? Hire people he's never worked with? BlackBerry doesn't have the luxury of time. Chen needs to create a team that works well together and in this case it means reaching out to those who have proven themselves to him.

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That's what he's been doing. Take another look at the quotes from Chen. He said he has had the pleasure of working with everyone he has hired before, thus, they have had experience working together as a team. This is why he said results will come faster.

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Hire the best people, not the people I already know from a similar but different business.

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Comes down to how you define and find the "best".

In a time critical situation, go with the best people you know, rather than search for unproven miracle workers.

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All blackberry need to focus on is apps they need to get good quality n popular apps onto blackberry

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It's so fucking simple ain't it? Why do you think they've built a android runtime ? Without it they would be on deeper shit.


Hope he can get the carriers back on board, or BlackBerry better start selling direct like Dell Computers. Advertise, ship direct fast, and supply direct online and phone support.

Posted via CB10

I am down with adopting the direct sales model - and direct customer support. They could take a page out of A*#)=$ book on that.


Posted via CB10

Not much more to explain. Chen hired a guy to be in charge of the sales department at BlackBerry.

His roles will probably be pushing carrier support, working out deals with suppliers, selling direct, pushing enterprise and maybe even getting into the marketing a bit.

Basically anything to do with getting people to buy BlackBerry phones and services!

That's what I was thinking!!! I love this dude. Clearly there's going to be a more intense "battle of the bands" at BlackBerry.

Posted via CB10 via the BlackBerry Q10!

Everybody talking about the apps needs to remember 10.2.1 officially releasing this quarter, and the ability to download Android apps directly OTA, no sideloading or anything the average consumer won't know how to do / have patience to do. The app gap virtually closes.

Proper marketing can sell anything for a profit. Look at the first iPhone selling millions before apps, copy, paste, "multi-tasking" (if you wanna call it that), etc etc. Their marketing was on point. BlackBerry does the same, they will sell millions as well.

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I don't consider this closing the app gap. In my opinion if it's not native it doesn't count as a BlackBerry App.

It'll certainly help and BlackBerry should definitely market it as closing the app gap but in reality it really is a cop out.

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Yup, I agree and it works for CrackBerryHeads like you and me. But, the newbies are gonna get reeled in by the access to Google Play.

When the installed base is large enough, native apps will come - as long as they are significantly better (i.e. profitable) than the Android versions.

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Yep, you got it. Google Play is just a way out of the hole they're in. Cascades, like bb10 is young and will evolve to be a superior app platform.

When the demand is high and it is evolved, native apps will come!

Hmmm... a lot of Sybase guys. The first two was fine. But now three?

I hope Chen isn't casting his net to shallow. :/

CB10 : Z10 STL100-3

John Chen is making moves, damn. Who's next? I just hope they are all on the same track with him and BlackBerry

Posted via BB-Z10. OS 10.2.1.

A lot of people sound apprehensive about Mr. Chen's hire but I 100% back his decision not only here but throughout this transition and in all of his time at BlackBerry.

Keep The Faith  BlackBerry Q10 

Sounds like his background is more suited to selling BES suites rather than handhelds but let's see, hopefully he nails it!


Sales is usually about relationships, identifying value, real or imagined, to potential clients and managing the relationship successfully. I've seen good sales people go from real estate to different technology companies and do quite well. Skill set is key and hence the phrase "selling ice/snow to eskimos".

Don Diego endorses the Zed.

Getting big executives from SAP to Blackberry? Chen must be a very convincing guy. I dont see how hiring succesful people can be bad for BB right now.

Yes he is convincing, with lots of $$$$. There is NO way these guys would move to Waterloo CA and work for a company like BB without huge $$$.

IMO, this is why Chen changed his "interim" status.

I do agree with getting more apps this means getting more developers on board, and we should be able to get direct updates from blackberry.

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I've got a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Toronto. I'm available too lol

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Yeah, I was wondering how that Degree qualities him for all the positions he has had plus the job at BlackBerry.

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Not one hardware guy! Not one. He is obviously building a software company, and the hardware is a commodity that anybody builds. I look forward to Sony phones with qnx and HTC etc. Awesome.
On a different topic. I love my z10 but the battery totally sucks. I mean is bad. I change batteries 3 times a day. And they are less than 6 months old. Is that normal on the z10? Bougjt it new from att in June.

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Mine was never THAT bad, but it's not strong either. I could usually get through my 8 hour work day with 20% or so left.

Z30 on the other hand, wow!!

I only need to change mine once a day. But it takes seconds so I don't care.

Z10 has the same battery life as any other smartphone but without the problem of integrated battery. I call that a win.

I'd rather take a few seconds to swap out a battery that lasts as long as any other than have that same battery life but have to limit the usage of my phone because of the integrated battery.

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I agree and love the fact that u can pull the z10 battery and what have u but what keeps iPhone users from envying us is that u can charge an iPhone everywhere. Everything has a dock: boom boxes, DVD players, toilet seats, whatever!!

At that rate us z10 users would be happy as hell and I personally would be from 90-100% battery life all day long... just sayin

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When I go to a mobility retailer and look at or ask questions about phones, the staff are still oblivious of what BlackBerry 10 is capable of. They often don't even know how to use it! The only store I've been to in the late couple months that was excited to show me a BlackBerry was the Bell store. They actually introduced me to the resident BlackBerry expert so he could talk z30 with me. We need more retailers to follow suit.

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Yes, they don't have a friggin' clue.

A good while ago at an Optus store (Australia), these silly girls there said to each other when I picked up the display Z10, "Have you figured out that phone?"...

I was randomly swiping, while demo mode was active. Couldn't make to much sense of it, but was pretty sure there must have been some thought behind it, and BlackBerry could be on to something here.

When I got my Q10 and helped someone else set up hers, it dawned on me how silly these girls were. There was a leaflet in the box that showed you the basic swipes in less than two minutes.

So the "sales team" hadn't even read it. They rather had a chat about "not figuring out" the phone instead of looking it up. No comment.

When I last checked at another store in town, the dude told me they no longer stock BB.
That was AFTER I showed him my Z10 and asked for the "Z30". He had to ask me twice before he understood "Z30" and realized I was talking about a BB while holding my Z10 in his face.

This dude had no clue and no market overview. Sure he would have grasped "S4" or "5s" the first time.

Again, no further comment.

My name is Prem, I'm using BBM ... from my QuZe10 ...whatarhyme...

BlackBerry are still not listening to the market, developers or customers.

The question is what are you going to do to bring new customers / clients to BB10????!!!!!!!

The market needs BlackBerry devices but you can't design just for your existing customer base.

Make high end devices with a 1080p screen and budget 720p

The market has dictated what is needed.

BlackBerry has to show more ambition with its devices.

BlackBerry...Get it done

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All I want to see is quality marketing/advertising to drive sales. We have the best platform & devices.

Rock n Roll boys, rock n roll.

Scribed by the Superlative CueX..on X.II

For a company that supposedly dead they seem to be attracting a lot of talent lately.

Sent from my BlackBerry Z30

If this guy can sell devices then I got no isssues, but he better do something to increase market share, that's what he was hired for I guess.

Posted via CB10

As if successful coaches don't bring same assistants with them. Parcells took below heck with him everywhere. Nah, some of you would have griped about that

Posted via CB10

Glad to see the appointment. Glad to see the focus on enterprise.

But, how does this mesh with the 4-businesses model?

It seems to me that the sales effort is very different for devices as for embedded as for Enterprise as for messaging.

Obviously, they still need someone to oversee them all. But, the rubber is going to neet thebroad at the business unit level.

Posted via CB10

On another note. This is a game of chess. Everyone that want results right now need to be patient. Chen is placing all his pieces in the spots he feels will work to bring BlackBerry back. He is moving swiftly but patience will be key.

Posted via CB10 with my T-Mobile USA  ‎BlackBerry Q10...SON!

Hope he puts some time to focus on Sweden :-P!! Swedes need to realize there is something other than Apple and Samsung ;-)!

Posted via CB10

It's all nice. But who's in charge of making sure rest if the world gets the latest blackberry OS official update. Why the delay? Not acceptable.

Who's in charge of making sure in house apps are of high caliber? Just look at the ratings for Facebook app plummet in BlackBerry World. One of worlds most used app!!

People are having issues posting!! Showing POST FAILED.

Want to run successful company.1 Pay attention. 2. Take action fast.


Lead. Do not follow

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Hopefully he can do better than his predecessor! Actually he has to. No choice!

Cartman says: Screw you guys I'm going home!

Even though it's fun and easy to speculate what's going on here, no one really does. Time will tell. At least most of us can agree that this is better than the doom and gloom just a short few months ago. Yes, it may not work, but this is way better news than just going under. Mr Chen is definitely trying and the stock price is showing confidence in him for now.

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I just hope things turn around I'm new to blackberry after trying other phones dare I say one being I phone won't go their , just love blackberry :)

Let's try getting the 10.2 update out, and then try to market BB10 devices. I went from eager to getting annoyed. It's use able on the Z30, so release it on the Z10 already! I want the fix on the camera, and why my Yahoo account settings forgets my password. The longer they draw out fixing issues besides adding features Blackberry should worry about losing current customers before gaining new customers.

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The experience that the majority of the new leadership team has in working together previously will drive change within the organization at a faster pace. I look forward to demonstrating these changes to the market."

I love line about being faster. BlackBerry has always been too slow. I hope this improves

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